Netaji's death certificate as real as his death

Justice Mukherjee found that it was issued, rather fabricated, only in 1988.

"A search of our files in the intelligence division reveals that there is no direct evidence that Subhas Chandra Bose was killed in an airplane crash... despite the public statements of the Japanese to that effect."

This was conveyed to the British intelligence by the US government in June 1946.

Scanning the file declassified on January 23 at New Delhi's National Archive, I can see why Americans made that assessment.

The story of Bose's death was based entirely on the statements made by a few Japanese and Bose's fiercely loyal ADC Lt Col Habibur Rahman. All else that was furnished in no way established Bose's death.

The following picture, for example, purported to show Bose's dead body on August 19, 1945:

image-1-embd_012816095747.jpg[The National Archives, New Delhi.] 

But what does it really prove? For that matter what does the following picture of Rahman, bandaged, sitting next to Bose's remains, prove?

image-2-embd_012816095850.jpg[The National Archives, New Delhi.]  


It was only the word of the "eyewitnesses" that the whole case was based on. But, when Rahman and others were interrogated or questioned, all sort of discrepancies and contradictions came to the fore. They concerned virtually every aspect of Netaji's reported death, which must have got etched in the memory of those who witnessed it - provided it took place in the manner it was claimed.

There are, however, things people will forget, and there are those they will never ever.

Take the question of who issued a death certificate for Bose. There were three army doctors around when an injured Bose was brought to a local hospital in Taipei on August 18, 1945. Dr Teneyoshi Yoshimi, Dr Toyoshi Tsuruta and Dr Yoshio Ishii.

Also read: What's stopping Modi sarkar from doing a DNA test on Netaji's 'ashes'?

Now, which one of these issued the death certificate for Bose, a VIP, and under what name?

Of late many famed historians and researchers have been talking about the 1946 report of Col John Figgess, who backed the news of Bose's death on the strength of whatever he was told by a few Japanese witnesses, including Dr Tsuruta.

According to Figgess' report, Tsuruta witnessed Bose's death and issued a death certificate. Here is the relevant portion from the report:

image-3-embd_012816095922.jpg[The National Archives, Kew.]  

But, according to a file declassified on January 23 in New Delhi, the same Tsuruta is seen telling the Shah Nawaz Committee in 1956 that he issued no such certificate.

image-4-embd_012816095956.jpg[The National Archives, New Delhi.] 

So who really issued Bose's death certificate?

Well, it's complicated.

Dr Tenayoshi Yoshimi told the war crimes liaison section in October 1946 that since the Indian leader had died of extensive burning and shock, he specified it in the death certificate he issued on August 18, 1945. He testified before the Shah Nawaz Committee in 1956 that this certificate carried the name of "Kata Kana", Japanese for "Chandra Bose".

image-5-embd_012816100059.jpg[The National Archives, New Delhi.]  

Netaji's death certificate as real as his death

Netaji's death certificate as real as his death

But some time earlier, the Japanese government told the Indian government that the certificate was issued in the name of "Ichiro Okura" with a view to keeping Bose's death a secret. The Japanese government paid little attention to Dr Yoshimi's statement and instead carried details from an interview with Dr Tsurtua in December 1955, saying he had definitely issued the certificate for Okura on August 18, 1945.

image-6-embd_012816100127.jpg[The National Archives, New Delhi.] 

Dr Yoshimi insisted before all the three panels - Shah Nawaz, Khosla and Mukherjee - that the certificate was signed by him and it bore the name "Chandra Bose". He denied having any knowledge about Ichiro Okura.

Shah Nawaz and GD Khosla accepted this version and the latter hailed Dr Yoshimi as "a most convincing witness of truth" in his report. He wrote that records in the name of Okura "relate to a totally different person and not Bose at all", ignoring the Japanese government's claim.

Interestingly, Justice Mukherjee found that Yoshimi had issued, rather fabricated, the certificate for "Chandra Bose" only in 1988.

Also read: What Ashis Ray isn't telling you: Netaji's 'death certificate' was issued in 1988

The available records show that certain "Yoshime" had sought permission to cremate Ichiro Okura, who had died of heart failure on August 19.

image-7-embd_012816100154.jpg[The National Archives, Kew.] 

All that has been declassified thus far tells us that India never ever pressed Japan to explain why it insisted that the records for Okura corresponded to Bose and by what logic. And if indeed a death certificate for Chandra Bose was issued, why was there no trace of it anywhere?

Could it be that the "Chandra Bose" death certificate was as much real as Bose's death?